June 19, 2003
Mitropoulos was elected to the post by IMO's 40-member Council. Other candidates were Magnus Johannesson of Iceland and Monica Mbanefo of Nigeria.
Mitropoulos, aged 64, has been involved with the maritime industry since 1957. Following his career at sea in the Greek Merchant Navy, he gained experience as a maritime economist, lecturer and author, harbor master and marine technologist. From 1965 to 1979 he was a member of the Greek delegation to IMO, rising to head of delegation. He joined the IMO secretariat in 1979 and in 1985 was appointed head of the Navigation Section. In 1989 he became Senior Deputy Director for Navigation and Related Matters and in 1992 was appointed Director of the Maritime Safety Division. In 2000 he was designated Assistant Secretary-General.
Speaking after his election, Mitropoulos said, "I am delighted with today's decision of the Council to appoint me as IMO's new Secretary-General to succeed Mr. O'Neil as from next year. I look forward to the Assembly approving the decision of the Council.
"However, as delighted as I am today, I will be even more so if, at the end of my four-year term, I am judged to have been successful in the discharge of my responsibilities and that I have lived up to the expectations of the IMO Members.
"Although I interpret the Council's vote as a vote of confidence in the particular individual, I cannot see the honor that goes with the vote as not reflecting on my family, my family's home town and my country, all three with deep maritime roots, of which I am very proud.
"I am fully aware of the heavy responsibilities the Council has put on my shoulders. As I stated when I presented my candidacy, I intend to carry out my duties with honesty and dignity in full consultation with the IMO Members acting, at all times, in the best interests of the organization in pursuance of the ideals and objectives of the United Nations.
"I have extended a hand of friendship and co-operation to my fellow candidates and appealed to the countries which voted for them to give me their support and cooperation so that the membership, as one solid entity, moves forward to face the many and various challenges that lie ahead.
"I wish to thank the Greek Government for putting forward my candidature and, in particular, Prime Minister Simitis, Foreign Affairs Minister Papandreou and Mercantile Marine Minister Anomeritis for the support they gave me throughout my campaign. I am very pleased with the decent and transparent manner in which the campaign was carried out.
"My deep and sincere thanks are extended to the Governments which supported my election, my many friends who wished me good luck and my staff in the Maritime Safety Division who supported me since I took over eleven years ago and whose solid work and co-operation provided me with a strong platform from which to launch my campaign. The trust Mr. O'Neil put in me has always been a source of strength and appreciation for my part. I owe a lot to our close working relationship.
"My gratitude to my wife, son and daughter for the moral support they gave me over the years and the sacrifices they endured while I was devoting my life to IMO is fathomless and I will never be able to thank them enough."